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Ageing and mobility

Older woman with two younger women outside - how ageing affects our mobility

Staying mobile

It’s great if your elderly loved one can still get around. It means they have some independence and can do things like taking themselves to the bathroom. So try to keep them mobile as long as possible to support their dignity.
 
On the other hand, age could be taking its toll on their body. It’s natural for muscles and joints to weaken as we get old. Our coordination and balance can weaken as well. It all means we can’t move about like we once did. If that’s the case with the person you’re caring for, there are things you could do to help them.  
 
How can you help them stay mobile? One way is to encourage them to exercise regularly. Movement and exercise help to strengthen muscles and bones. They also reduce problems with balance. Your loved one will need to move carefully though. So it’s good if you, a friend, or a social worker can exercise with them.
 
Also, to help their mobility, make sure their home environment is safe for them to move about. A fall can easily break an older person’s fragile bones. It can also destroy the confidence they need to stay on their feet. So try to make it impossible for them to slip or trip.
When they can’t get about

Your loved one may find it increasingly difficult to move around. So you might need to help them with things they used to do easily by themselves – for example, getting out of bed, getting dressed or going to the toilet.

How to help

As a caregiver, you can help your loved one get around and keep some degree of mobility. If they’re unable to move about easily, you can do the things they need doing.

 
Make sure:
  • their/your home is safe for them to move around – see Home safety for elderly
  • they know how to get to the bathroom and go to the toilet on their own; or, if they can’t do that, remind them to ask you for help;
  • they know where you are and who they should contact in case of any problems; 
  • they have a mobile phone or some other device within reach, for them to call/ring/buzz if they have any troubles.

Find a common understanding

Most of us like to keep our toilet needs to ourselves. And your loved one might feel awkward telling you when they need to go. So it’s important to find a way for them to let you know when they need help – a phrase or gesture that respects their feelings.

Reduce incontinence incidents

You can help the person you care for to feel more confident by preventing incontinence accidents. Try and encourage your loved one to go to the toilet at the same times each day. This can create a habit and reduce the number of times she or he is incontinent.

 
If she or he has difficulty getting to the toilet in time, look into using disposable incontinence products. Every situation is unique so to find the best incontinence product for your loved one, with the right level of absorption, see the TENA product finder.
 
To learn more about benefits of TENA, see Advantages of TENA.

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